Monday, June 23, 2008

Seth Godin at SLA in Seattle

Seth Godin is a best-selling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. He is the author of Permission Marketing, a New York Times best seller that revolutionizes the way corporations approach consumers. Fortune Magazine named it one of their Best Business Books, and Promo magazine called Godin "The Prime Minister of Permission Marketing" and "ultimate entrepreneur for the information age" by Business Week Magazine.

Best known as being an author of books such as Unleashing the Ideavirus, the Purple Cow, and Permission Marketing, Godin’s blog is not only one of the most popular blogs in the world, Godin also helped create a a popular website Squidoo, which is
a network of user-generated lenses --single pages that highlight one person's point of view, recommendations, or expertise . According to Godin, the way marketing works now is not by interrupting large numbers of people; rather, it is through soliciting a small segment of rabid fans who can eagerly spread the word about one's idea. The challenge is how to engage each person to go and bring five friends. What tools do we give them so that they can reach out to colleagues? A website like Zappos is so successful not because it sells shoes, but because it connects consumers to products, and then encourages consumers to spread the word to their friends and colleagues -- and hence, more consumers.

In this new era of permission marketing, spamming no longer works. Services such as PayPal which connect users to products or Sonos, which engage users as customers through recreating data into knowledge, and producing a conversation using the web as its platform are the new models of success. "Be remarkable," Godin argues, and "tell a story to your sneezers" so that they could spread the word and "get permission" from consumers for their attention to the product. Godin concludes with a controversial assertion. "Books are souvenirs," he said, to a hushed audience. Most people find everyday facts and information from digital documents. "When was the last time you got your information from a book?" Although Godin might have made a gross generationalization, his assertion of the divergence between the digital and the physical is a reality. In the Web 2.0 world, our enemy is obscurity, not piracy.

Together, Abram and Godin's sessions at SLA 2008 in Seattle were both rewarding experiences. They ultimately propose that information professionals need to shift their mentality from one of passivity to one of actively promoting themselves, of engaging information services in new ways, and of accepting change with an open mind.

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